Russian president changes route of Siberian pipeline to protect lake

Last month, we reported that a Siberia-to-Asia oil pipeline backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to be built half a mile from the world’s deepest lake, home to hundreds of unique species. Well, we’ve been Putin our place: yesterday, the Russian prez ordered the pipeline rerouted to avoid Lake Baikal by at least 25 miles. Widespread public protests and opposition from Russian scientists and green groups likely had, well, nothing to do with it — this is Putin we’re talking about. More likely the dramatic reversal was theater to impress the G8, which he’s chairing this year. Nonetheless, enviros — who had feared that an oil spill in the seismically unstable area around Baikal could, you know, damage the lake somehow — celebrated the decision. Said a Greenpeace spokesperson, “We … see it as a sign that the government does not only listen to those people who have political and business power.” Mm-hmm.